Maricopa County Board Chairman Bill Gates and family relocated after threats
After threats were made, Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Gates and his family were relocated for their safety for one night over the weekend. Although no arrests or indictments have been made, Sheriff Paul Penzone says authorities are continuing to investigate.
Threats against public officials are not exclusive to election season, Penzone said. People feeling emboldened by keyboard courage and divisive political rhetoric, he said, has led to a “natural escalation” of threats like the ones made against Gates — who has been an outspoken defender of the county’s election integrity and vote-counting process.
Penzone said many threats made online are from out of state, and are growing at a rate that needs to be stopped.
“Although we may have our differences, and we may see things that go on here that cause us concern, we do not need interference from people outside of the state to tell us how to run our election or what elected officials are deserving to be in their positions,” Penzone said. “We get to choose, you don’t.”
Penzone said that regardless of political affiliation, everybody should speak out against these types of threats.
“We have a heck of a system, and it’s not perfect but we have a heck of a judicial system and a process here [in our] election system,” he said. “Work towards improving it as opposed to just sitting back and criticizing it because real people are doing real jobs to get real results, and you put them in real harm. And that’s not OK.”